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Parents who have the television on the whole time are affecting their children's speech, according to recent research in America. Parents who tend to keep the television on even when not watching it are less likely to talk to their children and the children actually end up speaking less and having a worse grasp of language.
A study of babies and children aged between 2 months and 4 years found that for every hour the TV was on during the day, the parents used between 500 and 1,000 less words.
The study was published in the journal Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and the researchers said that this may explain the association between watching TV and delayed speech in some children. Over 300 children were studied on random days over a 2 year period.
Children were sometimes left alone in front of the television, or were not addressed while the television was being watched, or the parent was watching the screen and not interacting with the children.
30% of homes in America, the research said, have TV on all the time. The American Academy of Paediatrics discourages television before the age of two. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the UK does not issue guidelines.